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NOTE: This product is still pre-release, and implementation is not in sync with documentation yet - hence the pre-release version. We'll follow the Semantic Versioning Specification (Semver), so you can assume anything at 0.x.x still has an unstable API. But we are actively developing this.

Bumbleworks is a gem that adds a workflow engine (via ruote) to your Ruby application, and adds tools for task authorization and locking. It also establishes conventions for easily loading process definitions and registering participant classes based on configurable file locations.

Bumbleworks itself does not include a presentation layer; however, it is easily integrated into your application, and we're working on concocting several examples of how to integrate into different frameworks.


If you're using bundler, just add it to your Gemfile:

gem 'bumbleworks'

and then execute:

$ bundle

Or you can install it yourself using

$ gem install bumbleworks


Example Initializer File

Bumbleworks.configure do |c|
  c.storage = Redis.new # requires bumbleworks-redis gem
  # Or, for dev/test, if you don't have Redis set up yet:
  # c.storage = {}

# Initialize Bumbleworks (autoloads necessary classes/modules)

# Optionally, bootstrap in the initializer - don't do this in
# production, since every time this file is loaded, definitions and
# participant registrations will be overwritten, which will cause
# problems with any running workers.  But if you've configured
# a Hash storage (see above) for dev/test, you have to bootstrap within
# the same process.
# In production, you'd separately run the `bumbleworks:bootstrap` rake
# task to load definitions and participant registration.

# Start a worker in the background - this, too, should not be done
# in the initializer in a production environment - instead, the worker
# should be run in a separate process, using the `bumbleworks:start_worker`
# rake task.

The Process Storage

Bumbleworks uses a dedicated key-value storage for process information; this is where all process instance state is stored. We consider it a best practice to keep this storage in a separate place from your business information; see Process vs. Business Information for more discussion.

Before you can load process definitions, register participants, and spin up workers in Bumbleworks, you need to configure Bumbleworks's process storage. Right now, Bumbleworks supports three storage methods - Redis, Sequel (an ORM that itself supports MySQL, Postgres, etc.), and a simple Hash (only for development and testing, since it won't persist )


If you want to use Redis:

  1. Add the gem to your Gemfile:
  gem 'bumbleworks-redis'
  1. Set Bumbleworks.storage to a Redis instance. In a configure block, this looks like:
  Bumbleworks.configure do |c|
      c.storage = Redis.new(:host => '', :db => 0, :thread_safe => true)
      # ...


If you want to use Sequel:

  1. Add the gem to your Gemfile:
  gem 'bumbleworks-sequel'
  1. Set Bumbleworks.storage to a Sequel database connection. You can use Sequel.connect for this. In a configure block, this looks like:
  Bumbleworks.configure do |c|
      c.storage = Sequel.connect('postgres://user:[email protected]:port/database_name')
      # ...

Process Definitions Directory

Bumbleworks uses ruote, which allows process definitions to be written using a Ruby DSL.

By default, your process definitions will be loaded from the processes or process_definitions directory at Bumbleworks.root (see Determining the Root Directory for more info). This directory can have as many subdirectories as you want, and Bumbleworks will load everything recursively; note, however, that the directory hierarchy doesn't mean anything to Bumbleworks, and is only for your own organization. The directory is configurable by setting Bumbleworks.definitions_directory:

Bumbleworks.configure do |c|
  c.definitions_directory = '/absolute/path/to/your/process/definitions/directory'
  # ...

Note that if you override the default path, you can either specify an absolute path or a relative path - just use a leading slash if you want it to be interpreted as absolute. Relative paths will be relative to Bumbleworks.root.

Participant Class Directory

If your app has a participants directory at Bumbleworks.root (see Determining the Root Directory), Bumbleworks will require all files in that directory by default before running your register_participants block (see below). You can customize this directory by setting Bumbleworks.participants_directory:

Bumbleworks.configure do |c|
  c.participants_directory = '/absolute/path/to/your/participant/class/files'
  # ...

Task Class Directory

If your app has a tasks directory at Bumbleworks.root (see Determining the Root Directory), Bumbleworks will require all files in that directory when you run Bumbleworks.register_tasks. You can customize this directory by setting Bumbleworks.tasks_directory:

Bumbleworks.configure do |c|
  c.tasks_directory = '/absolute/path/to/your/task/class/files'
  # ...

Participant Registration File

If your app has a participants.rb file at Bumbleworks.root (see Determining the Root Directory), Bumbleworks will load this file when you run Bumbleworks.bootstrap! (or run the bumbleworks:bootstrap rake task), which will create the registered participant list. The file should contain a block such as the following:

Bumbleworks.register_participants do
  # foo FooParticipant
  # bar BarParticipant
  # ...

You can customize the path to this file by setting Bumbleworks.participant_registration_file:

Bumbleworks.configure do |c|
  c.participant_registration_file = '/absolute/path/to/participant/registration/file.rb'
  # ...

Determining the Root Directory

By default, Bumbleworks will attempt in several ways to find your root directory. In the most common cases (Rails, Sinatra, or Rory), it usually won't have trouble guessing the directory. The default Bumbleworks.root directory will be the framework's root with lib/bumbleworks appended.

If you're not using Rails, Sinatra, or Rory, and you haven't explicitly set Bumbleworks.root, Bumbleworks will complain when you call any of the following methods:

  • Bumbleworks.load_definitions!
  • Bumbleworks.register_tasks
  • Bumbleworks.register_participants ... unless your definitions directory, tasks directory, and participants directory (see above) are specified as absolute paths.


Loading Definitions and Participants

Process Definitions

Process definitions are just ruby files with blocks following Ruote's Ruby DSL syntax. The only difference is that instead of Ruote.define, the method to call is Bumbleworks.define_process. No arguments are necessary - the name will be taken from the base name of the ruby file (e.g. 'foo.rb' defines a process named 'foo'). All process definition files should be in your app's definitions_directory (see above); they can be in subdirectories for your own organization, but all filenames must be unique within the definition_directory's tree.

To actually load your process definitions from the directory:


Keep in mind that any changed process definitions will overwrite previously loaded ones - in other words, after running this command successfully, all process definitions loaded into Bumbleworks will be in sync with the files in your definitions directory.

Process definitions will be named (and launchable) using the name of the file itself. Therefore, Bumbleworks will throw an exception if any files in your definitions directory (and subdirectories) have the same name.


Registering participants with Bumbleworks is done using Bumbleworks.register_participants, which takes a block, and follows Ruote's #register syntax. For example:

Bumbleworks.register_participants do
  update_status StatusChangerParticipant
  acquire_lock LockerParticipant, 'action' => 'acquire'
  release_lock LockerParticipant, 'action' => 'release'
  notify_applicant ApplicantNotifierParticipant

Unless you add it yourself, Bumbleworks will register a "catchall" participant at the end of your participant list, which will catch any workitems not picked up by a participant higher in the list. Those workitems then fall into ruote's StorageParticipant, from where Bumbleworks will assemble its task queue.

This block should be placed in the Participant Registration File (see above), and then it will automatically be loaded when running Bumbleworks.bootstrap! (or the bumbleworks:bootstrap rake task).

Starting Work

Without running a "worker," Bumbleworks won't do anything behind the scenes - no workitems will proceed through their workflow, no schedules will be checked, etc. Running a worker is done using the following command:


You can add this to the end of your initializer, but, while this is handy in development and testing, it's not a good practice to follow in production. In an actual production environment, you will likely have multiple workers running in their own threads, or even on separate servers. So the preferred way is to call the Bumbleworks.start_worker! method outside of the initializer, most likely in a Rake task that has your environment loaded.

Strictly speaking, the entire environment doesn't need to be loaded; only Bumbleworks.storage and Bumbleworks.root need to be set (the latter will have a reasonable default if using a popular framework), and Bumbleworks.initialize! must be run, before starting a worker. However, it's best practice to configure Bumbleworks in one place, to ensure you don't get your storage configurations out of sync.

You can run as many workers as you want in parallel, and as long as they're accessing the same storage, no concurrency issues should arise.

The Task Queue

When a worker encounters an expression that doesn't match a subprocess or a participant, it gets dropped into the storage and waits to be picked up and dealt with. Using the Bumbleworks::Task class, Bumbleworks makes available any of these items that have a param called "task." Let's use the following expressions as an example:

concurrence do
  trombonist :task => 'have_a_little_too_much_fun'
  admin :task => 'clean_up_after_trombone_quintet'
  rooster :do => 'something_nice'

If you call Bumbleworks::Task.all, both of the first two will be returned as Task instances - the third one will be ignored. You can also do:

Bumbleworks::Task.for_role('trombonist') # returns first task
Bumbleworks::Task.for_role('admin') # returns second task
Bumbleworks::Task.for_roles(['trombonist', 'admin']) # returns both tasks

Call Bumbleworks::Task#complete to finish a task and proceed to the next expression.

See the Bumbleworks::Task class for more details.

Rake Tasks

If you...

require 'bumbleworks/rake_tasks'

... in your Rakefile, Bumbleworks will give you a couple of rake tasks. Both of these rake tasks expect an environment Rake task to be specified that loads your application's environment (Rails, for example, gives you this automatically).

The tasks are:

  1. rake bumbleworks:start_worker

This task starts a Bumbleworks worker, and does not return. It will expect Bumbleworks to be required and for Bumbleworks' storage to be configured.

  1. rake bumbleworks:bootstrap

All process definitions will be loaded from the configured definitions_directory, and the participant registration file (at the configured participant_registration_file path) will be loaded. This operation will overwrite the current definitions and participant list, which is fine as long as no workers are currently running.


  1. Check out the latest master to make sure the feature hasn't been implemented or the bug hasn't been fixed yet.
  2. Check out the issue tracker to make sure someone already hasn't requested it and/or contributed it.
  3. Fork the project.
  4. Start a feature/bugfix branch.
  5. Commit and push until you are happy with your contribution.
  6. Make sure to add tests for it. This is important so I don't break it in a future version unintentionally.
  7. Please try not to mess with the Rakefile, version, or history. If you want to have your own version, or is otherwise necessary, that is fine, but please isolate to its own commit so I can cherry-pick around it.